South Jersey Medical Research Laboratory

Between Hallowell Lane and Davis Street, at Copewood Street

A History through 1956
From the book

Camden County Medical Society, 1957


On August 13, 1909 the City of Camden purchased fifteen acres of land from Thomas H. Strain, for the purpose of establishing a municipal hospital site. This acreage was in back of the site of the present municipal hospital. Huts were built in a field to isolate smallpox cases. The following year a wooden structure was erected to serve as a temporary hospital. There was no full time medical or nursing staff, but patients were cared for by their families and family physicians. A man and his wife lived in the building as caretakers.

Plans for a modern hospital were prepared in 1910. In 1912 construction was actually started under the direction of a building committee, composed of Raymond L. Warren, John A. Mather, Jr., and William H. Kensinger, M.D. The members of the City Board of Health, at this time, were Henry H. Davis, M.D., president; Marcus K. Mines, M.D.; E. Winner Collins; Reuben L. Gaskill; S. G. Bushey, M.D.; Melbourne F. Middleton, M.D.; William I. Kelchner, M.D. Bids for equipping the hospital were let in 1914, and Dr. David Rhone was active in selecting the medical supplies and equipment.

The new hospital was officially opened in 1916 under Dr. Henry H. Davis, Health Director of the City of Camden. Dr. Rhone treated over one hundred polio patients in the large epidemic of that year; and Dr. Jungman was employed as full time Medical Director, and occupied the doctor's cottage.

The old wooden hospital was prepared for treatment of venereal diseases, then remodeled and converted to a nurses' home, and the several outbuildings were used to house chickens, sheep and other animals. Mr. Oscar Williams was employed to run the farm, supply the hospital with eggs, fowl and vegetables, as well as to act as handy man and repair man.

In addition to Dr. Jungman, many city physicians sent their patients to the hospital and made ward rounds. Among these were Dr. David Rhone, Dr. William Pratt, Dr. Howard E. Primas, Dr. Roberta Principato, Dr. Samuel S. Butler, Dr. W. J. Browning, Dr. W. G. Moore, Dr. H. I. Goldstein, Dr. F. F. Moore, Dr. Paul Young, Dr. Clement T. Branch, for whom Branch Village is named; Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Jr., who had a street named for him; and Dr. Davis, who had both a street and a school named in his honor. The chief diseases treated were diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, meningitis, measles, chicken pox, venereal diseases, typhoid fever, anthrax, pneumonia and erysipelas. Epidemics of smallpox occurred, and not infrequently, before 1910. Under the supervision of Dr. Davis, vaccination of all the population was pressed, and this disease became less common. However, the periodic influx of migratory workers has always been a public health problem in South Jersey, and there was an outbreak of smallpox in Camden in 1925 with 97 cases and 44 deaths. In 1933 there was one fatal case, and in 1947 there was one fatal case.

During the period from 1916 to 1945, many sufferers of contagious diseases were hospitalized routinely, regardless of severity of illness. For example, the wards would be filled with scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria, chicken pox or mumps, at the epidemic season for each disease.

In 1917 Dr. Jungman was called into the military service, and the hospital was run by Dr. Henry H. Davis and by Dr. John Leavitt. During the influenza epidemic of 1918, the hospital was filled to overflowing, and patients were housed in the doctor's bungalow and in the nurses' home, as well as in the armory on Haddon Avenue. Additional nurses and physicians were assigned from the New York Shipbuilding Corporation during the epidemic. Among these were Drs. Roy Hayes, Edwin Gault, Charles Ley, and Dr. Guy. Mrs. Elizabeth Kauderer came to the hospital as a nurse during the epidemic, and later took over the clinical diagnostic laboratory which she still directs.

In 1920 Dr. Jungman's position was filled by a new full time Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Lovett, who served until his death in 1949. In 1923 Dr. Davis was succeeded as Health Director by Dr. Arthur L. Stone, who pressed an immunization program which all but eliminated diphtheria from the City of Camden. He died in 1945 and was succeeded as acting director by Dr. David Helm, who added pertussis and tetanus immunization to the city clinics and school program and eliminated rabies from the area, through rigid control of stray dogs.

In 1949 Dr. Lewis Coriell came as Medical Director of the hospital, and arrangements were made for residents from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to live in, and for teaching of senior students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the Graduate School. Affiliating residents also came from the U. S. Naval Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania, and an active program of clinical and laboratory research was instituted. Associate directors and research fellows were Dr. Lois Murphy, 1950-1952; Dr. Robert McAllister, 1952-1955; Dr. Feng Kai Lin, 1955-1956.

The Camden Municipal Hospital became a member of the New Jersey and the American Hospital Associations in October, 1950. It was certified for residency training in contagious diseases in 1952; and on November 1, 1954, it was fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, representing the American and Canadian Medical Associations, the American Hospital Association, The American College of Physicians, and the American College of Surgeons.

With the control of some diseases through immunization, others through insect and rodent control, and others through improved sanitation and water supply, the number of hospital cases became gradually lower. This was speeded somewhat by the advent of antibiotics after 1940. However, the hospital admissions remained about constant from 1933 onward due to increasing use by the whole South Jersey area. Also there was an increasing number of polio patients, as some of the other diseases decreased. During the last ten years the hospital has treated only severe complications of contagious diseases which require procedures not possible at home. The most common causes for admission have been meningitis, encephalitis due to measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough with pneumonia or convulsions, poliomyelitis in epidemic years, hepatitis, scarlet fever with complications, and small numbers of other diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid fever, and anthrax.

At some point after 1956 the hospital was closed and razed. A series of two story apartments now occupy the site. The South Jersey Medical Research Foundation continued to operate on the site into the 1980s, before being renamed the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and moving to new quarters on Haddon Avenue and Washington Street. The laboratory building and other structures remained in use into the early 2000s, but subsequently became vacant, and was vandalized. A small fire was extinguished in one of the buildings in June of 2011

Philadelphia Inquirer - December 23, 1910
John A. Carter - George Bachmann

Camden Municipal Hospital
South Jersey Medical Research Foundation
Laboratory (foreground)

Philadelphia Inquirer - September 15, 1915

Philadelphia Inquirer
January 6, 1916
Edward S. Hyde - Lewis Munion
Harry Savoy -
Silver Street

Camden Courier-Post
July 24, 1941